Every year, more than 20,000 Americans receive medical treatment after drinking energy drinks. While these emergencies usually don’t lead to major complications, there have been incidents of heart attacks following heavy energy drink consumption.
Researchers are concerned about the way in which energy drinks with extremely high caffeine concentrations affect the heart. At such concentrations, caffeine can cause acute arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), which can lead to long-term heart problems – and that’s before you factor in the consequences of consuming 27 grams of sugar (in a standard Red Bull can).
However, energy drinks are an essential part of life for millions of people. Some need them to study. Others need them to combat occupational fatigue, and many office workers can’t concentrate in front of the computer screen without them.
But are energy drinks a necessary evil?
Not really. If you’re dependent on energy drinks to survive the day, there are plenty of healthy and effective alternatives.
Ditch energy drinks
Here are some ways to ditch energy drinks and boost your energy without harming your body…
Base your snacking routine around protein and carbs
Eating well can supply enough energy to get by without caffeine-rich concoctions or mountains of sugar. The best way to get the energy you need is by snacking on foods that blend carbohydrates and protein.
Yogurt and nut combinations are a great way to start the day, while salmon and brown rice with a soy dressing is a fantastic lunch.
Even a glass of chocolate milk will do. The important thing is to combine the two food groups at every sitting. One on its own won’t provide the metabolic release you need. So cook some fish to take to work or pack a couple of yogurts.
Maintain your hydration levels
Even moderate dehydration can lead to fatigue.
When your hydration levels drop, your body responds by slowing down its vital processes to conserve water and energy. This makes your muscles more sluggish and your mind less sharp.
Oftentimes, people reach for an energy drink because they haven’t been drinking enough water, not out of pure exhaustion. Keep a bottle of water with you and get into the habit of drinking regularly.
Sort out your sleep patterns
Sleep is the number one source of energy and alertness throughout the day, so always try to turn in at a decent hour.
Energy drinks compromise your sleep patterns by filling your bloodstream with caffeine and sugar. This boosts your energy in the short term, but if you struggle to sleep, you’ll feel terrible the next day.
If you then reach for an energy drink to rejuvenate your body and mind, the cycle continues, until your sleep patterns are hopelessly out of kilter.
Get out of the habit of using energy drinks to avoid sleep. Find ways to avoid having to work late at night, and discipline yourself to hit the sack before midnight.
Keep your vitamin B levels elevated
Many energy drinks promote themselves as a form of nutritional supplement. Their cans feature bold messages about their vitamin content, which can give the impression that they are healthy to drink. However, it’s much better to take in essential vitamins via a balanced diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables.
Vitamin B is one of the most important parts of a balanced diet, as it helps to keep your metabolism in efficient working order. That’s why energy drink manufacturers add it to their products.
You can get the same boost from green vegetables like spinach or kale, or herbs like parsley, so why not substitute a salad for your next can?
Explore the world of energy boosting teas
Sugar-laden energy drinks also add compounds from sources like ginseng and green tea to make them seem healthier than they are. But there’s no need to crack open a can of industrial slime to enjoy the benefits of the good stuff.
Try drinking a cup of ginseng tea instead. Ginseng and green tea both boost your metabolism, giving you an intense energy rush, and they have also been found to fight cancer. They won’t keep you awake all night either.
By coming up with a combination of herbal teas and the right snacks, and by getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water, you’ll find that energy drinks are far from indispensable in modern life. In fact, by learning to ditch energy drinks and take a natural approach instead, you can feel just as energized without risking your heart.